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A look inside a social start-up incubator (photos)

Inveneo has turned the top floor of a former sewing factory in a sketchy part of San Francisco into a hotbed for emerging market-focused start-ups.

Ina Fried
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Welcome to the social

Once home to just Inveneo, Mission Social now houses eight different social enterprises in the top floor of an old San Francisco sewing factory.

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The view from Mission Social

The surrounding neighborhood, as seen from one of the shared conference rooms at Mission Social. All of the rooms, each named for a different African beer, are equipped with a Webcam for quick Skype calls.

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Catapulting new designs

Among the first tenants of Mission Social, besides Inveneo, was Catapult Design, a product design firm that specializes on products geared toward developing countries.

Catapult moved to the building after getting kicked out of a shared spot in a trendier neighborhood.

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Tools of the design trade

Although it may lack some of the amenities of other areas, Catapult Design founder Tyler Valiquette says Mission Social has a sense of common purpose that makes it a great place to work.

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Engineers Without Borders (or desks)

Among the residents of Mission Social is the local chapter of Engineers Without Borders, which tends to use the space only for night meetings, when other tenants are gone for the day.

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Green Wi-Fi

Bruce Baike, of Green Wi-Fi, with a prototype of his company's vision for a solar-powered data center.

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View from above

The view from the roof of Mission Social's headquarters.

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Simulating Africa

Inveneo uses this "hot box" to make sure its servers, computers, and other gear can withstand the hot conditions they will face in rural Asia and Africa.

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Raising the roof

Inveneo's Brian Shih checks out an antenna that is part of a test network operated on the roof of the company's Mission Street space in San Francisco.

The antenna is similar to a set-up that Inveneo used to help with earthquake relief in Haiti.

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Plug and play

Mike Del Ponte, whose venture Sparkseed is a Mission Social tenant, plugs in his laptop.

Inveneo rents out space to other social enterprises, most of whom specialize in bringing technology to the developing world. Organizations can rent as little as a single desk, getting both space and Internet access.

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It just sort of stayed here

Inveneo CEO Kristin Peterson said she rode her Vespa to work during the rainy season and hasn't found the time to take it home yet.

"It started raining one day and it just stayed here," she said.

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